Saturday’s evening in-store performance is especially meaningful to us here at your friendly neighborhood record store. Ben Weaver was the first person to perform in our shop after we moved nearly a decade ago, and has performed here regularly ever since. His 2015 album I Would Rather Be a Buffalo was the first LP released with our name on the label, and is still one of the things we are most proud of in the long legacy of this record store.
Earlier this year he released his latest album in a CD package which contains a small book of poetry. Sees Like A River is a collaboration with Alpha Consumer and also includes spoken word pieces by Ben (his website is here). Ben has consistently participated in and led bicycle rides and advocacy while also working to support river cleanup projects.
Performing on Saturday is also an old friend of ours, Mike Munson. His knock-down foot-stomplin’ live album is one of the best-selling CDs in the history of our record store (probably because we listen to it all the time) and also one of the most underrated blues records since the millennium. After a lot of digging into the digits, we found this picture of Mike performing at our 2016 block party (with percussionist extraordinaire Mikkel Beckmen) but we couldn’t find one of the pictures we took of the crowd from the other side. Maybe somebody reading is the photographer who took that picture — we’d love to be able to share it! Mike amazed everyone that day, as he does every time he performs (and his website is here).
Regular readers here are sure to be familiar with these guys. We love them. Ben and Mike will be performing here at Hymies on Saturday evening at 5pm.
We’re pretty excited to see the Yawpers at 7th Street Entry on Friday. Their 2015 album American Man didn’t live up to the praise we’d heard poured on the trio, but this year’s Boy in a Well has become the subject of fascination around here. Why do we love this album so much? The record ostensibly tells the story of an unwanted boy abandoned in a well and is set in France during the first World War, but its not the rock opera aspirations with which we have fallen in love. In fact, we haven’t really figured out the story — but then again can you really explain the plot of Tommy without sounding dumb (bam, pun intended) or do you just like what you hear?
Boy in a Well is an absolutely magical amalgam of Americana. Rockabilly roots run alongside all the things we secretly love about hair metal. Some of the songs start or end in standard American folk music but take surprising turns along the journey. One of the things that really knocks us out about Boy in a Well is the incredibly inventive performance of drummer Noah Shomberg, who shifts genres with grace and really drives the connections which establish the album’s concept. He’s so damn good you can almost forgive them for being one of those bands without a bass. Lead singer Nathanial Cook, who turns from Jimmie Rodgers to Axl Rose as a born storyteller, couldn’t have realized his vision without Shomberg and second guitarist Jesse Parmat.
Bloodshot is releasing a 7-inch single of “Mon Dieu” from the album backed with a live recording of the band covering “Ace of Spades” next month. There will also be a comic book adaptation of the album which was previewed by Paste Magazine here. Truthfully, the ten page sample reminded us that even though we have listened to this album fifty times, we have no idea what the plot of the story is — it looks like the love child of R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural and Joe Sacco’s comic journalism and we love it.
The album was recorded by Alex Hall at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders. In the same studio Hall also captured what we think could justifiably be called one of the most beloved Minnesota records of the decade, the Cactus Blossoms’ You’re Dreaming. In addition, local legend Tommy Stinson served as producer and also contributed a “piano freakout” to the recording. The point is that these guys aren’t from here, but they should be welcomed with open arms.
Boy in a Well is maybe about a half hour long but it moves with an epic sweep in spite of Shomberg’s barrelhouse performance. Cook’s performance is so extraordinary that it is hard to believe there are not a half dozen or more vocalists on this album, and Parmat captures a true sense of everything Americana from Scotty Moore to Poison Ivy. Memorable riffs and motifs blur pass like power poles through the window of a train, and we have been entranced by the album’s epic tour of everything we love about rock and roll and all its bastard cousins.
The song we’ve sampled here is “Mon Nom,” from the second side. We couldn’t pick a favorite song from this album — in fact it was the focus of debate around here. The achingly beautiful “A Visitor is Welcomed” just wasn’t representative, nor was the mad and driven “A Decision is Made,” which precedes it. It’s just a damn good record from beginning to end, which is surprisingly rare these days. You can also hear the sweeping closer “Reunion” in its official music video here. Presumably the Yawpers will be playing many of these songs on Friday night at the 7th Street Entry. Locals the Person and the People will open. Details on the First Avenue website here.
This coming Thursday we’re circlin’ the wagons ’round a new DJ night downtown at Dalton and Wade Whiskey Commons, a new space in the north loop. They have branded our DJ night “Rockabilly and Rye” and we love it, along with the whole cowboy and home cookin’ theme of the bar.
In addition to Hymies staff, our old friend DJ Truckstash will be taking some nights as well. You may know him as the man behind the turntables at our annual block party in April. You’ll probably hear a lot more honkytonk on his nights and more rockabilly and blues on Dave’s nights. Laura’s planning to take on some nights as well as Brian Engel from Hipshakers, who plans to bring his best country jams around.
Dalton and Wade, along with our new sponsor, Fulton Beer, are donating $1 from Fulton sales to Hurricane Harvey/Hurricane Irma relief programs. We’re sure to post here about additional drink specials and giveaway deals as we get this new project rolling. In the meantime you can catch Hymies DJs at Dalton and Wade on Thursday nights from 9-12pm!
Charlie Parr has never been one to follow the rules when it comes to releasing a record, so many fans have already heard his new album, Dog. The album is officially out tomorrow, and you may have seen Charlie featured in yesterday’s City Pages or caught his show here in town. Along with the media blitz is this hilarious video for “Peacefully Valley” animated and directed by Jake Huffcutt.
Charlie will be performing two nights at the Cedar Cultural Center next month to celebrate the new album. The first night will feature an acoustic performance and the second an electric performance, and we’ll be there again to spin some blues and old time records in between the sets each night. Details on the Cedar’s website are here.
Today’s post returns to Pete Seeger’s 1958 Folkways LP, Gazette, a collection of twenty topical songs which remain surprisingly relevant all these years later. We are also fortunate that this nearly sixty year old record remains surprisingly playable as well.
Seeger was a music teacher for a time during the years he, as a member of the Weavers, was blacklisted from radio and television and found booking difficult. Imagine sending your children to summer camp to have their counselor be the legendary Pete Seeger!
His song “42 Kids” describes the work and passion of a teacher through the melody of Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons,” a song which was a #1 hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford a couple years before Seeger recorded the songs on Gazette.
March may seem like a long time ago, but the decisions that Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff announced then may have affect life inside your neighborhood school this week. Announcing plans to cover a $28 million budget gap, Graff planned to maintain current class sizes in keeping with the voters’ wishes expressed in a 2008 referendum. Most schools in Minneapolis saw staff reductions going into this starting school year, a subject which has made for at least one contentious and emotional school board meeting this summer.
We have two kids returning to Minneapolis Public Schools this morning. They have had an incredible and positive experience and we are very optimistic that will continue into this coming school year. We hope the same for all of you readers with your own kids starting school today (and we’re jealous of those of you whose school districts don’t start until next week!) and we’re thankful for all the Minneapolis teachers who have worked so hard to have everything ready for today.
Three years ago we closed the record store for a day to celebrate our 10th anniversary. It was the only time — aside from the two weeks we were closed to move the record shop in 2009, that we have been closed, aside from holidays. Today on our anniversary we want to tell you we appreciate that you all support a neighborhood record store. Everything wonderful about this place begins and ends with all you folks who visit every day, week or month.